Last week I was lucky enough to pick up a quite sizeable collection of documents relating to a National Service Signaller who served in Malaya at the end of the 1940s. There are plenty of interesting papers here and I will pick out some of the more interesting items with ‘a tale to tell’ to post on the blog:We start tonight with a small card for the British Other Ranks Holiday Home in Penang, known as Sandycroft:In the 1940s it was impossible for British soldiers to return home to the UK for their leave and officers were very keen to ensure their men did not spend their leave in some of the less salubrious flesh pots of East Asia. To solve this problem, holiday homes were set up that provided accommodation, bars, sports and recreation facilities within a day’s travel of the more far flung corners of empire and the one in Malaya was at Penang. It consisted of a number of chalets, swimming pools and a bar and was next to a large beach and the sea for men to swim in:Not only was the holiday home there for servicemen, but also their families if they happened to be living in the country so many wives and children were able to take advantage of the facilities. Before going on leave, a man needed to have a leave pass signed by his unit, with details of where he intended to go so he could be recalled if needed. In this case we also have this leave chit for our National Serviceman, Lance Corporal W Proctor:On arrival at the Sandycroft Holiday Home L/Cpl Proctor was issued with a card that included details of his room on the front and the various times of meals, assistance available to him and other information a holiday maker might need printed inside:At some point in the early 1950s Sandycroft holiday home was renamed Sandycroft Leave Centre and it was to remain in use for the next twenty years.
Roger Mereweather took his leave at Sandycroft a few years later:
I was based at R.P.O.Malaya in Singapore (Nee Soon) from June 1956 to December 1957 and us poor national servicemen could just about afford Sandycroft Leave Centre for the two breaks we earned while in Asia. I didn’t know it as an RAF leave centre and the only women we encountered were the NAFFI Girls who took care of our every need (almost) I remember one of them as Molly but being a virgin soldier I had to behave myself.. In those days it took 24 hours to travel by train up to Penang and now I can do it in 12 from the UK and what a place it still is, well worth going to.
After the British withdrawal from Malaya, Sandycroft was taken over by the Dalat International School in 1971.